New Tool Calls Attention To Facebook’s Creepy Graph Search Feature

Privacy symbol with digital globe, 3d renderFacebook launched a feature called Graph Search in 2013 that allowed users to search through pretty much every piece of public content on the site while using just about any criteria you could think of, including photos a particular friend has liked, places they’ve been and events they’ve attended.

While this creepy tool is still around, Facebook has deemphasized it quite a bit over the years. However, it reentered the news in a big way this week thanks to a new tool called Stalkscan that aims to show users just how much of their private information is out there.

A Belgian “ethical hacker” named Inti De Ceukelaire created the tool, which acts as a simple web interface, to take advantage of the full power of Facebook’s Graph Search. It generates searches to meet highly specific requests like, in the example illustrated by Motherboard, “photos of single females liked by a friend.” This is obviously extremely creepy, but it’s important to note that Stalkscan can’t find any information that Facebook’s own search engine can’t also find — it just does a more efficient job of digging it up. And it can only pull up content that has been publicly shared by a user.

In fact, the creator of Stalkscan himself recommends that users check their own profile to make sure they’re only sharing what they want.

“I’d advise people to check themselves first while logged in into a friend’s account,” De Ceukelaire wrote. “If they see stuff they don’t want to, they may want to remove tags, likes or photos from their profile. This way, they at least know what other people can see.”

There’s no doubt Stalkscan is a pretty invasive app, but if it achieves De Ceukelaire’s goal of spooking users into strengthening their privacy, then it’s done a good job.